Thursday, August 30, 2012

What are you doing today, Calico Quilter?

Halloween fabric; 2012 season

Halloween blankies in the making
Following the picture of Halloween fabrics above, here's today's project.  I'm focusing on autumn crafty things that need doing.  That means putting aside a couple of other projects that are on my table, but only for now, to make Halloween quilts for the girlies.  I imagine my little girlies examining their finished fun-time quilts with curiosity.  The prints are so adorable, there's not much I have to do to make these quilts be special.  A little bit of work, work, work, but oh such fun to make!  It's a very quick project and these will be done in no time at all.  Then it'll be back to the 8-point scrappy star wall hanging (leafy appliques are almost all stitched down) and the quilt blocks (about 12 more blocks to make) for my Colores quilt top.

Queen of the Wind...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini Pickles Recipe

Here's the recipe for Cindy and others who may want to give it a try.  I took this recipe from a cookbook that I had passed along to my daughter-in-law.  All credit for this recipe goes to Zuni Cafe and that cookbook, which I can't remember the name of.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Putting up preserves...

Here's this year's batch of jams made by me own self.  There's Strawberry, Peach Jalapeno and Spicy Blueberry.  I thought putting the "spicy" in the blueberry preserves would be a nice touch, but Ray prefers it plain.  Next year I'll remember to keep it simple.  Making jams and jellies require a boatload of sugar, but I follow the recipe exactly, for fear of the jam not setting up. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Grape harvest at the Casita...

Red Flame Grapes...this year's harvest
Red Flame Grapes...the plant
Temecula is known throughout Southern California for its wineries and has a Wine Country of its own; wine tasting, hot air balloons, award-winning wines; we've got 'em for sure.  Maybe this part of the country is meant for grape growing.  I brought home one bare root plant from Home Depot in early spring with great expectations, a Red Flame seedless variety; kept it potted, don't know why, instead of putting it into the ground; never did stake the plant, but should have.  The fruit of my efforts?  tah dah!!  See me own bunch of grapes?  The one tiny grape that I taste-tested is good, but size and quantity...not so much.  Side note:  The possum came after my strawberries, but not the grapes.  I wonder why not the grapes...  Maybe I'll try a couple more grape vines (this time in the ground) next planting season...Calico Quilter's teeny tiny vineyard; LOL!  Maybe the possum missed the grapes because they are so tiny? 
The possum missed the grapes, but Henry didn't miss the, run, run...bark, bark,, run, run...that's Henry language for "Go away you possum!"  Henry, the hunter!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Break from quilting...Zucchini Pickles!

Don't these look yummy?  Zuni Cafe Zucchini Pickles, one of the easiest pickles I have made.  After you've followed the recipe, simply put your jars in the refrigerator and they will last indefinitely; no water bath or pressure cooking necessary.  What I like best?  They are yummy's a small recipe; makes two pints as you can see.  If you want the full recipe, just drop me a line.  I added a bit of whole mustard seed and celery seed, mainly because I had them on hand and they add to the pickle flavor.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jelly Roll Quilt Tops!

"Jelly Roll Race" quilts...two of them!
In the meantime, in between working on my 8-point scrappy star wall hanging, I've been jumping from project to project just to keep momentum flowing.  For example, I just whipped out two, not one but two,  "Jelly Roll Race" quilts, using a couple of jelly rolls that I had purchased but had no idea what to do with...that is, until my penpal Deb directed my attention to a great You Tube video published by the Missouri Star Quilt Co. (  This video kept me in stitches (LOL) and was instructive at the same time; its banner promises a quilt in less than an hour (mine took about 2 or 3 hrs); my little machine was buzzing!  My penpal and I have just gotten started corresponding, but I can tell she's got a great sense of humor and she's practical, too.  I am just a little bit crazy when it comes to keeping my crafting priorities straight, but I live happily with what I do...keeps life interesting.  Creative chaos and all that, you know!

Edyta Sitar; wall-hanging progress

First corner completed
2nd corner in progress
Each of the four corners of this wall hanging are to be appliqued with this leafy design.  I have completed the first corner.  Each of the pieces has been edge-stitched in place.  This was not so hard to do once I found the right stitch size and, of course, fusible web makes it all possible.  I am now working on the second corner and I expect to have all four corners done pretty quickly.  Then I will move on to preparing the finished piece for quilting. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Underground Railroad Sampler

I posted this miniature quilt quite a while back, but I like to bring it forward again, from time to time.  These are 6" blocks; the design is from "Underground Railroad Sampler," a Quilt-in-a-Day book by Eleanor Burns and Sue Bouchard.  I enjoyed piecing this quilt top and learned that I like to work on miniature quilts; the piecing is tedious but the overall size is so much more manageable.  Since I have a difficult time with machine quilting, I sent it out to a local quilt shop to be quilted.  This is a wall hanging that I made for my husband to hang in his office.  I generally prefer to do hand quilting, but my goal is to one day be able to master machine quilting.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Edyta Sitar; wall-hanging applique in progress

I am working on applying the applique pieces to my 8-point scrappy star wall hanging (design by Edyta Sitar, from her book Scrappy Fireworks Quilts).  I have traced each piece of the applique design onto sheets of double-sided fusible web.  Because there are so many duplicate pieces, I marked each one (for example "D-1 of 4, D-2 of 4, etc.) as I trace, to avoid getting confused.  The picture above shows pieces I have traced and cut out, and ones that have been fused to different fabrics and are ready to press into place.  Once I have arranged the pieces and pressed them into place, I will edge-stitch each piece.  The most time-consuming part of this project will be to edge-stitch each piece.  This is my progress, so far.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Applique stitch

How I keep track (Bernina 830E)

Applique edge stitch, up close
Still working on my scrappy 8-point star, mini wall hanging.  Edita's design features a beautiful scrappy star as its center, surrounded by appliqued vines and leaves...very pretty.  My star block and the surrounding borders are completed, and now it's time to apply the applique.  Edita's suggested method is to apply the applique pieces with fusible web; I am using Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, and then to finish the raw edges with an edge stitch.  The process is surprisingly not as tedious as you might think; just need to use care and not rush the process.  I am learning to relax my body and let the machine do the stitching (I'm just the guide); otherwise, it can be a really tense workout.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Edyta Sitar; my first 8-point star

My latest favorite quilt designer, Edyta Sitar.  I purchased two of her books, Scrappy Firework Quilts and Friendship Strips and Scraps.  Here's my first 8-point star in the making, from a pattern in Edyta's Scrappy Firework Quilts book.  The scrappy diamond pattern looks intricate but the technique is easy enough, provided you measure and cut carefully.  This is a little ambitious for my first-time, 8-point star, but I wanted a more challenging project, and I wanted to make something I really love.  My greatest challenge has been to distribute colors and prints evenly throughout the star.  Matching each point of every little diamond went quickly once I mastered the technique...again, a little care ended with good results.  Now it's time to piece the star together.  This will be a wall hanging when it's completed.